Here’s a Memorial Day Activity You Probably Never Thought Of

Published on May 29, 2021

A Memorial Day activity that you might not have ever thought about is strolling through a cemetery. But this particular cemetery may change your mind.

The Mountain View Mortuary and Cemetery, located on 2400 N. Fair Oaks Avenue in Altadena, is the final resting place of some of the most historical and interesting people who ever lived in the greater Pasadena area.

It’s worth visiting if for no other reason other than to learn some amazing history and to pay your respects to some of the very people who helped shape America.

The cemetery is home to the remains of people such as Caltech physicist Richard Feynman, earthquake Richter scale inventor Charles F. Richter, sci-fi writer Octavia Butler, Black activist author Eldridge Cleaver, and 1950’s TV Superman George Reeves, just to name a few.

Denny Dormody, Funeral Director at the Cemetery, said Memorial Day this year will be a little but more special, with roving storytellers and members of the Daughters of the Civil War sharing their family stories.

The graves of almost 800 Civil War veterans are located at the Altadena cemetery, making your tour on Memorial Day truly a walking history lesson. Graves also include those of many veterans of the world wars, as well as the Spanish-American War in 1898.

“We have so many markers here with veterans,” Dormody said. “We have our little box of flags ready to go for people that want to stop by and grab a flag and pay their respects over the weekend.”

Also buried at the cemetery are Perry Green, who built the first bank in Pasadena, and Emma Bangs, who opened what is said to have been the very first hotel in Pasadena and named it “Emma Bang’s Boarding House,” on what was to become the site of the Vista Del Arroyo Hotel.

Friends Thaddeus Lowe, a Civil War aeronaut, scientist and inventor, and civil engineer David J. Macpherson, who together began construction of what would become Mount Lowe Railway in 1891, are also among those buried at the cemetery.

“I’m not a historian, so I don’t want to leave anyone out, but there’s just so many people here that developed Pasadena and Altadena that it is what I’d call the walking history lesson,” Dormody said. “I like to talk about what we have.”

Mountain View Mortuary and Cemetery is over 60 acres of green space, with over 200 species of trees and plenty of chirping birds, Dormody said.

“We have all the flying parrots and everything that comes through here, so it’s quite a nice place,” he continues. “And actually people are stopping by here, sitting around and having lunch. So it’s all good.”

Mountain View Mortuary and Cemetery will be open all weekend and on Memorial Day, too, Dormody said.

2 Comments to: Here’s a Memorial Day Activity You Probably Never Thought Of

  1. Justin A.

    May 29th, 2021

    Mary Vaughan (nee Johnston) has spent 18 of the past 20 years placing flags on the graves of veterans at Mountain View cemetery. (The other 2 years, she repeated this tradition at a cemetery in North Carolina.) She started the tradition with her then-4-year-old grandson, and the size of Mary’s group has grown to more than a dozen, including her daughter, son-in-law, and siblings. This year, Mary’s 3-year-old grandson will join the tradition. The group places flags on the graves of approximately 500 veterans at the cemetery.

  2. Donna Roberts

    June 1st, 2021

    Also buried there is Margaret Langley, a woman notable in the suffrage movement.


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